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Cary Gets Into Red-Light Camera Business

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CARY, N.C. — Red-light cameras are nothing new in North Carolina. Chapel Hill has two that were installed in September. Raleigh has 12 and plans to install nine more, but they will not say when. Now, the town of Cary is joining in the fight against red-light runners.

By March 2004, 16 red-light cameras will snap pictures in Cary. A private company will send violators $50 fines for running red lights. Motorists have mixed opinions on the use of the cameras.

"I just don't like them. I think it's mainly to make money for cities," motorist David Lemly said.

"I think it's a good idea," motorist Judy Butler said. "I come through here every day with my grandson to meet my daughter, and I shop here and there are people who run the red lights."

"I'm against it. It violates my privacy," motorist Jim Miller said.

The first red-light camera will be established at the intersection of Cary Towne Boulevard and Convention Drive on Jan. 31 and Cary wants you to know about it. A special event is planned for Friday with the deputy Police Chief Pat Bazemore in attendance for a public service campaign that will be videotaped.

Bazemore said the police are not trying to be Big Brother. The proceeds go to the school system and motorists will have an opportunity to dispute a ticket.

"We'll have people here everyday of the week Monday through Friday, so that drivers can dispute their violation if they don't think it was them," he said.

Cary engineers claim their red-light cameras are a cut above any others in North Carolina. They also said they will be kinder and gentler, starting ticket letters with "Unfortunately, it appears you may have run a red light."

Red-light cameras are working in Chapel Hill and one group believes they need to keep them in place.

Town council members, accident victims and safety advocates gathered Thursday in support of the SafeLight Program which began in September. Since then, Chapel Hill's red-light running violations has decreased by 40 percent. Last week, newly elected councilman Mark Kleinschmidt launched a campaign to remove the cameras.